The Waiting Perch

pigeons

Love is a tiny morsel of bread
flung by a careless hand.
The lonely pigeon, one amongst hundreds
swoops down from her waiting perch
open-hearted and hopeful for a taste of happiness.
She surfaces hungry, pitiful
whilst others emerge victorious,
strutting around with full bellies and smug expressions.
So she returns to her perch
to wait for the fling
of the next morsel
that surely will be hers.

©2018 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

Your body is not a temple.

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A quote from Anthony Bourdain inspired me to write a poem. He said:

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” 

The poem then expanded into a post on Elephant Journal with some ideas on how to enjoy the ride. My Amusement Park Goals.

You can read the full post here on Elephant JournalYour body is not a temple

And here is the poem:

Your body is not a temple.
Forget your pristine offerings,
the steps leading to enlightenment,
and the need for worship.

God doesn’t only live in holy buildings.
He also lives in Disneyland, Legoland,
and perhaps even in your local playground
if you look hard enough.

Your body is an Untemple
waiting for that Mad Tea Party
where spinning around can also bring
the discovery of divine pleasure.

Delight in the fairy floss of her hair,
lose yourself in magic kingdoms,
feel the adrenaline pumping from a wild ride,
and sometimes take the slow train to nowhere.

Before the sun sets
and you must hand in your wristband,
make adventure your Guru,
make fun a sacred ritual.
Your body is not a temple.

©2018 Seetha Nambiar Dodd

Futile exercise

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They run from their problems
like Olympic sprinters going for Gold.
Powerful, determined.

They veer suddenly from difficult conversations
like gazelles avoiding a predator.
Leaping from conflict.

They pursue their insipid dreams
like marathon runners.
Deliberate, methodical.

But all roads lead to pain and suffering.
Problems catch up, difficult conversations find short-cuts
and dreams are pacemakers, always just out of reach.

Unlike broken bones, broken souls cannot be easily fixed.
The x-ray shows nothing is wrong
but they know that something needs mending.

©2018 Seetha Dodd

Anchors and chocolate sprinkles

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Billy Collins, the American poet, said that “the trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry.” It is never ending, he says, until “we have compared everything in the world to everything else in the world.”¹

He then proceeds, with his delightfully witty style, to illustrate the use of comparison:
“Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.”

Comparisons bring the words to life. They add imagery to the emotion. Rising like a feather in the wind conjures up feelings of floating, of lightness of being and of bliss, whereas sinking like a chain flung from a bridge paints a dreary picture of desperation and hopelessness.

Poetry is filled with two key types of comparisons: similes and metaphors. I am not always 100% sure of the difference. Instead of having to Google it every time, I tried to find an easier way of remembering, and found it in my music playlists.

Simile: “My life is like an open highway” – Bon Jovi
Metaphor: “Life is a highway” – Tom Cochrane

In other words: Metaphors are the anchors of poetry that hold everything together, they are the life-blood of the poet running through the page. They are not like anything, they just are. Adding similes to a poem, however, is like adding chocolate sprinkles to a warm, milky drink.

Some of the most famous poems ever written are filled with anchors and chocolate sprinkles. Scottish poet Robert Burns declares that his love is “like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.” Shakespeare, poet of poets, in Sonnet 97 laments: “How like a winter hath my absence been from thee.” Emily Dickinson beautifully describes hope as “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words.” And what about this from Kahlil Gibran, Master of the Profound: “Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, That we may record our emptiness.” Wow, and Ouch.

In music, anchors and chocolate sprinkles are also abundant. I found one of my favourite pieces of imagery by accident, in Al Stewart’s The Year of the Cat: “She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running/ Like a watercolour in the rain.” Vivid, beautiful and creates a masterpiece in your head. 42 years after that song was released, Vance Joy’s Take Your Time echoes the sentiment in a subtle, less chocolate sprinkle-y way: “I’ll admit I never saw you coming/ Now I see your colours running.”

And back to Billy Collins. His poem Divorce, is the type of writing I admire – saying so much in so few words, crafting a whole story through the tightly woven lines of a poem, calling upon the reader’s imagination to bring it (even more) to life:

“Once, two spoons in bed,
now tined forks
across a granite table
and the knives they have hired.”

This is poetry with depth, humour and style. Reading it is like climbing into a warm, scented bath, cold glass of champagne in hand. It is sometimes like swimming in the sea, making surprising discoveries, occasionally coming up for air and dreaming about the magic you want to create with your own chocolate sprinkles.

©2018 Seetha Dodd

¹The Trouble With Poetry, Billy Collins

The Key

make a wish

“People disappoint, so set your expectations low,”
A weary soul once told me this, many moons ago.

But I was young and hopeful, so I thought I’d take a chance
And strode down Optimism Street without a second glance.

The path was rough, uneven, not at all like I had thought;
The people, dark and jaded, seemed unhappy with their lot.

Kindness always wins. I’ll keep my expectations high.
“But people disappoint,” the world said with a wistful sigh.

The further down the path I went, the more Heartache I found
And every time I tried to rise, Truth pulled me to the ground.

What’s the point? I asked the world, of trying to be true?
The world didn’t answer, it was disappointed too.

Then I met a woman with a shawl and shining eyes;
She took me to a tiny shack that she called ‘Paradise’.

She asked me why I looked so sad; I told her of my woe
That Happiness had flown away not too long ago:

I had it once, I held it tight, so tight it could not breathe.
And then I put it in a cage and begged it not to leave.

When I was out exploring, one dark and jaded day,
Someone opened up the cage and let it fly away.

I tried so hard to lock it up, to keep it safe, you see.
“Oh, my dear,” she said, “but then you gave away the key.”

People disappoint, I said, It’s no use being kind.
Every time I look for Hope, it’s Misery I find.

With shining eyes she looked straight through my dark and jaded heart;
She took my hand and led me all the way back to the start.

“Happiness,” she said, “is waiting for you every day.
But first let me show you what’s been standing in your way.”

She handed me a mirror; I was horrified to see
The one who disappointed most, staring back at me.

©2018 Seetha Dodd

Shadow Play

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The stage is set
and behind the screen
the puppets are poised,
shadows waiting to play.

On the other side
the audience is ready
to watch the dance
of the puppets at play.

The manipulation begins.
Dance by the rules.
A firm flick of the wrist.
Puppets forced to play.

The audience claps
at the beautiful show
while the puppets are trapped
in this shadow play.

Perhaps one day
the screens will come down,
we cross into the realm
of the shadows at play.

Shatter the safety of illusion
of what is seen and not seen
but for now it remains
just shadow play. 

©2018 Seetha Dodd